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The Tripitaka Koreana, A Thousand Years of Wisdom

This is a comprehensive documentary about the Korean Tripiṭaka carved on wood blocks for printing during the Goryeo period of Korean history (10th-14th centuries), made on the occasion of its 1,000 year anniversary.

The film was made by the Korean Arirang channel, and looks not just at this Tripiṭaka, but also at the Chojo Tripiṭaka which was made earlier but whose wood blocks were unfortunately destroyed during one of the Mongol invasions of Korea. Prints from it still survive however, and attempts have been made to digitally reconstruct the text.

The documentary looks at the history of the wood blocks, their present location in Haeinsa Temple, how they were made and interviews many experts in the various fields to do with wood block printing, including one master who is still carving blocks in the traditional style.

Some quick facts: 52,382,960 characters, 81,258 wooden printing blocks, 1496 titles and 6568 volumes. The wood used in the blocks weighs 420 tons, more than half of which was carved on blocks from the Sargent Cherry tree.

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